Reflections on failure
This isn’t your typical blog
Before reading, please know this isn’t a pleasant, up beat or even peppy post. Instead this post is raw and reflects feelings of failure and my previous mismeasurement of success. It may trigger some, and be misunderstood by others. I first thought of naming it real life, but I’m sure eventually I’ll overcome this moment in time and ‘real life’ will be different yet again. Please do not think for a second that I am ungrateful for all the experiences, which have been amazing and aplenty. Instead please know that these are simply feelings and reflections that go on inside of most people no matter the perception of ‘success’ from the outside.
Through writing this, I found a great blog on the types of failure that helped gain perspective.
Seven years ago today, the trajectory of my life went in a new direction. After experiencing a job loss and going through the processing of grief, confusion, loss of purpose and especially loss of confidence; I had finally started a new position. Little did I know at the time my previous sense of accomplishment and confidence would never return.
We are called a narcissistic generation. We are told that technology and social media are giving us an inflated sense of self. But most of us don’t walk around feeling like we are all that great. In fact, there is one underlying emotion that overwhelmingly shapes our self-image and influences our behavior, and that is insecurity.
You see, up to this point in my life, I always had a goal post and would do everything to get there as fast as possible. Never did I intend to compete with anyone else, either before me or my peers, I just simply went through life on my own schedule. I’d learn of something new I wanted to do or try, and I’d set out to get it done. Character flaws and all, I’d plow through, ignoring any intuition and certainly never slowing down.
At one point in my college years, I had 3 jobs, 21 credits with a 4.0, a volunteer position and a relationship. I didn’t sleep much in those days. I also lived in a city but refused to take the subway or a cab because I was doing everything to save as much money as possible. My hyper focus on getting to the end goal distracted me from any potential emotion, positive or negative. Things would happen, arguments would come up, and I’d let them come and go, never believing that stopping to ‘feel’ something would be worthwhile.
Most people would call me an overachiever to my face, some would be outright mean, and I just continued on. Other’s thought I was a great responsible person. No one warned me of burnout, or the self-destructive side of my choices and actions.
Admitting this is difficult. I look back and see how hurtful I was to those in my life. I look back and clearly see how much this way of life most likely was hurting my soul, but hindsight is 20/20 and there is no going back and changing it now. At the time I had no understanding of nurturing, caring or empathy. One person even named me ‘data’ from Startrek. Sometimes I wish someone had taken me aside and gave me a real talking to. I probably wouldn’t have listened or even understood what they were trying to tell me. I also see friends who did far greater than anything I could ever do in my life, those of my friends who have become MD’s, or are apart of non profit organizations, and those that are now missionaries. They truly gave their lives to something greater than themselves.
This reason I write this today isn’t to out myself, or even to apologize. I’ve done that 1:1, don’t worry and if I haven’t and you have something I should be apologizing for please let me know. Instead it is to bring up the concept of real life, real raw emotion. Whilst I am aware that some people may have a more balanced mindset, and can go with the flow without worry or fear. It is certainly not something I experienced or have been able to maintain for long periods of time. Everyday I work on this. Everyday I try to do better than the last. It’s just that now, instead of trying to reach some financial goal, or learn more information, or apply for an award; I try to focus on my feeling state.
Instead of being scrooge and counting my money or making a new retirement budget… I’ve started to spend more time experiencing things and building relationships with others. Noticing the beauty in the world, reading pretty things, feeling appreciation for those in my life. Or enjoying the taste of a dish, watching Bianca sleep or just having a brief conversation with a neighbor. Or for example, taking the courage to start this blog.
How’s that working out?
All that said, as life has started to pick back up and travel has started again; I have failed yet again. I cannot explain the loathing I have for myself at the moment. Instead of being able to be mindful and intentional, I slipped into some old version of myself who let her insecurities take over and words spew out. Defensive, stupid words that had no basis except to build a wall around my silly little ego. Fear sucks. It can consume our minds and reveal the worst in us. It makes us forget the lessons we’ve already learned and takes away our peace. Fear gets us into some awful situations, but doesn’t a provide a way out.
I enjoyed this blog on responding in different ways to failure.
Second guessing everything
So where does this leave me. I’ve started to second guess decisions, thoughts, things I already thought I solved for. My entire world feels like glass… or maybe a house of cards for those that watch the tele. My mind feels like its trapped in a puzzle that doesn’t end. I desperately want to be able to sit down and come up with a 2022 goals list. Hoping it would soothe me. But I’m so hyper aware that no achievement, no hobby could overcome this empty feeling inside. Again, I am incredibly grateful for all of the experiences and people in my life. In this moment, however, I don’t feel like I deserved any of it and wished I had shown up very differently on many occasions.
Until next time…
Sit down and have a serious conversation with your biggest critic… that might mean picking up the mirror.